Trump corrects a historic wrong by pardoning Lewis Libby
The level of partisan dishonesty that led to a wrongful conviction of Lewis "Scooter" Libby for lying to an independent counsel investigator probing the alleged leak of Valerie Plame's status as a CIA desk jockey lives on. A shocking level of misinformation is being broadcast by purportedly reputable sources like the New York Daily News and Jake Tapper of CNN. More on that below, but first, consider the malpractice that led to Libby's wrongful conviction in the first place.
The best single source of information on the railroading of Libby is the work of Clarice Feldman here on American Thinker. Based on her extraordinary work here, the Weekly Standard asked her to write up a comprehensive view, which she did in 2006. Her lengthy article, "The case of the missing crime," is essential background reading to understand the magnitude of the injustice that befell Libby. The entire operation of the investigation under Independent Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald (who was appointed by none other than his close friend, James Comey!) rapidly became a witch hunt to get something on Vice President Cheney that could drive him from office. The parallels to today's investigation by Robert Mueller are painfully obvious.
Fitzgerald quickly discovered that the leaker was Richard Armitage, an aide to secretary of state Colin Powell, yet continued the investigation and sprang a phony perjury trap on Libby, under which he obtained a conviction, destroying the career and personal finances of a brilliant and dedicated public servant. The testimony of then-N.Y. Times reporter Judith Miller upon which Libby was convicted was later recanted, as Miller claimed in a book:
... that she now believes that she was induced by then-Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald to give false testimony in the 2007 trial of I. "Lewis" Scooter Libby, former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.
Miller revealed that exculpatory evidence was withheld from her and that her testimony would have been different had she known the information available to Fitzgerald at the time.
Recall that the impetus for the investigation was based on the false premise that by revealing Plame's name, a covert CIA operative was placed in danger. This was untrue, as Plame was a desk jockey at CIA headquarters.
The misrepresentations continue today. The New York Daily News headlines: "Trump pardons Scooter Libby, Bush administration aide who leaked CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity."
Here is a screen grab, in case the Daily News attempts to hide its misreporting:
The kindest thing to say about this headline is that it is recklessly ignorant. Libby was not the leaker. By the time he was interviewed, it was known to Fitzpatrick that the leaker was Armitage. Libby was never charged with being the leaker, either.
Jake Tapper also repeated the falsehood.
Calling @Comey a “proven LEAKER & LIAR” while you’re about to pardon Scooter Libby, who leaked the identity of a covert CIA employee and was convicted for lying about it to the FBI — well, that’s quite a thing.— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) April 13, 2018
I cannot forgive President George W. Bush's failure to fully pardon Libby, especially in the face of strong pressure from his vice president to do so. Instead, he commuted the sentence, sparing Libby a prison term but leaving his name and professional standing as a lawyer ruined. Over the years, as the perfidy of the case became clearer, Libby recovered some of his status. But only a full pardon would suffice to correct the wrong, and President Trump has delivered that justice. Of course, the financial losses are not restored, nor can the agony Libby experienced be undone.
Trump-haters are convinced (see, for example, this in the New York Times) that the motive was to signal to Michael Cohen and others that pardons await if they are stand-up guys.
Because I believe that President Trump likes to kill two or three or four birds with one stone, I would not deny that this might be another goal of the pardon. But because as an editor and writer I lived through the horrific injustice of the treatment of Libby, I cannot ignore the fundamentals of the matter: a man wrongfully destroyed financially, reputationally, and professionally has been finally done the minimal justice to which he is entitled.